Retired US Army colonel explains why John Kelly’s views of civilian life are dangerous for democracy
Ret. U.S. Army Col. Bob Killebrew wrote a guest column for Foreign Policy this week in which he took Trump chief of staff John Kelly to task for his seemingly contemptuous views of American civilians.
Kelly last week gave a press conference in which he only called on reporters who knew Gold Star families, and he said that he felt sorry for reporters who had not previously served in the military.
“The larger point that strikes me, as a retired infantryman, is the self-pity in the general’s tone,” Killebrew writes. “Look at us; we’ve made sacrifices that you don’t appreciate. The only good American is one in uniform, or, ultimately, the ones under tombstones in Arlington.”
Killebrew goes on to say that, while life in the military can indeed be stressful and difficult, it’s also a broadly satisfying job where people are taken care of after their service is finished.
“We give up personal freedom for the privilege of serving our country, and we enter a closed-off profession that is enormously satisfying, but can also be physically, emotionally, and intellectually demanding,” he explains. “We accept the risk that some of us get killed or wounded. In return, the country gives us decent pay, an early retirement — some bodies get pretty broken up in twenty or thirty years — and health care. It’s not a bad deal.”
Killebrew concludes his column by saying that Kelly’s outlook on civilian life does not bode well for his appreciation of American democracy as a whole.
“That odd press conference has exposed Kelly’s emotional, personal disdain for the citizens he served in uniform and still serves in a sensitive political post,” he writes. “His remarks lead me to wonder if he really understands that soldiers are the servants of democracies, not some special race apart. A MacArthur or a George Patton, disdainful or ignorant of democracy but close to the president is dangerous to the Republic.”